Indonesia plans to spend close to $950 million to fight bird flu over the next two years, and some of the money will go toward establishing surveillance stations at villages across the country, the welfare minister said Friday. Indonesia is also planning a two-year pilot scheme involving vaccinating both humans and poultry in a region just north of the capital Jakarta that was home to the first of the country's 11 human fatalities, said Aburizal Bakrie.
The bird flu virus has killed hundreds of millions of chickens and ducks since it started ravaging poultry stocks across Asia in 2003, and has jumped to humans, killing at least 76 people. Three Turkish children are believed to have died of the disease.
Bakrie said the government had budgeted 9 trillion rupiah (US$937 million, Ђ775 million) to fight the disease over the next two years. The money was from foreign donors and the Indonesian budget, he said. Bakrie said surveillance posts would be established at the village level across the country, but gave no more details.
Most human cases of bird flu have been traced back to contact with sick birds. But experts fear the virus could mutate into a form that is easily spread among people, possibly triggering a pandemic that could kill millions worldwide.
Indonesia's Java island is considered a potential flash point because of its high density of chickens and people, health experts warn. The country was criticized for moving too slowly when bird flu first appeared in poultry stocks two years ago, but has promised in recent days to step up the fight, reports the AP. I.L.